SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, long a leader on the issue of marijuana regulation in California, is stepping forward with a proposal to bring medical marijuana under the umbrella of the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. (ABC)
"Where marijuana rules are concerned, California has been in chaos for way too long," Ammiano said. "Cities have been looking for state guidance, dispensaries feel at the mercy of changing rules and patients who need medical cannabis are uncertain about how their legitimate medical needs will be filled. This is a concrete plan that will keep medical marijuana safe. We will get it into the right hands and keep it out of the wrong hands."
Ammiano's AB 473 would establish a Division of Medical Cannabis Regulation and Enforcement within the ABC. The division would be responsible for monitoring supply and sales of medical cannabis, in fulfillment of the voters' overwhelming passage of the Compassionate Use Act in 1996.
The approach is similar to that which has operated successfully in Colorado for three years, because the ABC has the experience in education, compliance and enforcement necessary to regulate successfully, said Matt Cook, a national consultant who was the architect of Colorado's successful regulatory plan.
"With this kind of mechanism, you can ensure that only those who are authorized through state law are able to get it," he said.
The plan includes monitoring of the entire supply chain, so that vulnerable medical patients are not exposed to toxic substances used by some unauthorized growers. It would also work to eliminate criminal involvement in the industry.
With rigorous enforcement and clear guidelines, the plan would reassure local jurisdictions that have witnessed a confusing series of court decisions. It should also reduce federal actions against dispensaries.
"We've had not one federal intervention," Cook said, referring to Colorado.
In addition to AB 473, Ammiano is also introducing an Assembly resolution asking the federal government to give California breathing room to get its medical cannabis house in order without the threat of new widespread prosecutions of medical providers.
CONTACT: Carlos Alcalá, Communications Director (916) 319-2017